Building Relationships: The Heart of Success in Business and Life
As a visiting Fulbright Scholar at Dublin City University in the fall of 2022, I had so many wonderful experiences. Indeed, my time in Ireland was about as close to perfect as one could possibly imagine. But if you asked me to identify what made my three months there so special, I would have to say it was …well, let me get to that by first telling you about a long-time friend of mine. Sam taught me so much about life. He had graduated many years earlier from the business school at Baylor University in Texas, where I serve as on the faculty; in fact, he was already retired by the time I met him. Sam had been a highly competent business leader, having stacked up a track record of impressive achievements during his career. But he was also a very caring individual who was keenly interested in others and their wellbeing. I worked with Sam to create and deliver a course to MBA students that was shaped around field visits to major corporations, all of which we were able to access at the highest levels because of Sam’s wealth of connections with influential businesspeople. Helping with the course led to a time of profound learning and development for me. During a break between briefings at one of the companies we were visiting, I found myself alone with Sam in the hallway. It presented an opportunity for me to probe a little deeper into the business wisdom of a highly experienced professional, and I had to take it. “Sam,” I asked, “what is the secret to success in business?” He didn’t hesitate, not even for a moment. “Relationships!” he replied enthusiastically. As a young academic, it sounded too simple; I figured there had to be more to the formula. But having gotten to know many executives over the many years since—honorable men and women of remarkable professional accomplishments—it has become clear that Sam was right. Those who take a kind interest in others and are intentional about building relationships with them are the ones who can get everyone on board and achieve great things. There may be exceptions, but they are actually quite rare. The rule holds in almost every case.
So, how does this relate to Dublin City University? My three months there were some of the very best of my lengthy and fulfilling academic career. The conversations with DCU faculty about ideas and research projects were rewarding and productive. Time spent in the classroom with students was gratifying and enjoyable. And discussions over coffee or lunch with administrators and faculty leaders about program- development plans and possibilities for collaboration between Baylor and DCU were definitely stimulating and will hopefully prove fruitful in the years to come. But without question, it was the relationships that emerged from these exchanges that made the experience so extraordinary.
Ireland is a beautiful country. It abounds with stunning scenery, a rich and fascinating (though too often difficult) national past, and a colorful and dynamic present. But the country lights up the world through its people, who instinctively understand the great importance of relationships and are superbly skilled at bringing others into their “friendship folds”. I will be forever grateful to the DCU faculty, administrators, and students who made my time in Dublin so special, memorable, and treasurable. (A special shout-out to Brian Harney, my faculty host, who took an interest in me and my Fulbright work by generously sharing his time, valuable knowledge, and wise insights.)
I am sure my friend Sam would agree that it is on that which matters most that the DCU family shines the brightest because it excels when it comes to caring about and connecting with others! The world is, no doubt, a better place because of your kindness and openness to fellow travelers in this life. It is that sparkle of humanity that causes those of us who visit to long to return—and as soon as possible!
Author: Les Palich, Visiting Fulbright Scholar, DCU
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